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Posted by Ken on September 11, 2000 at 15:22:49:

In Reply to: Father's alcohol consumption posted by Concerned Daughter on September 11, 2000 at 13:33:16:

: My father has had diabetes most of his adult life. He controls it through medication now and is fairly responsible when it comes to diet and exercise. He has also had heart bypass surgery.

: I know that alcohol can help with heart disease, but what effects does alcohol consumption have on his diabetes? He drinks beer socially and hard liquor to relax. I don't live at home or near him, but I think he drinks several mixed drinks a night. By that, I mean more than 2. I don't know how much more than 2.

: I've read that alcohol can be dangerous if you already suffer from nerve damage, which he does. What should I know about this.

: His behavior is fine when he drinks; he does not yell or stumble around. He does get defensive, though, if we mention our concern. I am concerned that such consumption each and every night is dangerous. I'd appreciate any insight.

: Thank you.

Alcohol consumption by any diabetic, Type 1 or Type 2, must be handled very carefully. I assume your father is Type 2 since he takes medication and not insulin.

Many medications for diabetes advise to avoid alcohol. The American Diabetes Assn. advises to check with your doctor on if and how much you should drink alcoholic beveages. They also suggest do not drink alcoholic beverages on an empty stomach. They advise to eat a snack or eat something when drinking the alcoholic beverage.

Alcohol can lower blood sugar levels to dangerous levels that could produce coma without warning.

By the way, glycogen, given to diabetics who give themselves too much or the wrong type of insulin or for any other reason that their blood sugar level falls to a dangerously low producing coma, do not respond to glycogen when alcohol is present. Medical professionals must administer pure glucose using an IV. If your father is not wearing any diabetic neck or wrist bracelet or does not carry information that he is a diabetic, paramedics, for example, suspecting diabetic shock, may administer glycogen at first, but if this does not work they may go ahead an administer pure glucose upon a doctor's advice. No matter how you look at it, with alcohol present valuable time could be wasted. You can die from this type of shock.

I suggest you visit the web site of The American Diabetes Assn. at Use their search field on the left side of their home page near the bottom and put in the word "alcohol". This should give you and your father all the information on how to handle alcoholic beverages and the consequences if you don't.


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